Emaline is spending her last summer before college in her home beach town of Colby. Everything is familiar – from working for her bossy sister Margo at the family rental company to Emaline’s gorgeous (and regularly shirtless) childhood sweetheart, Luke.
But when an out-of-town brash New York filmmaker, and her young assistant Theo, come to stay at one of the beach houses, everything Emaline thought she knew about herself changes.
But can her heart let go of a life she’s loved for so long?
I’ve not read anything by Sarah Dessen before. This was my first outing :)
This was an odd story, in that nothing really happened. And I’m not sure what it was about, like, ‘and the moral of the story is?’ *shrugs*
So, what worked for me?
Luke – I loved his character. He’s a real good guy and he gets a bit of a bum deal.
Setting – Gotta love the beach! And I could truly appreciate that ‘local and tightly knit’ vibe that Colby had. I live in a place where small communities are the norm. So I could really identify with that aspect- that sense of ‘us’ and ‘them’.
Family Matters – I enjoyed how the relationship between ‘dad’ and ‘father’ was explored and I thought the revelation towards the end was great for Emaline.
Writing Style – is easy to sink into. And I like that about a book, when I can just read it without really thinking.
She sees his true colours – Better late than never, eh? But for me, Theo was a douche from the get-go. The later interactions between Emaline and Theo were great. I loved the sudden change of tone, the sass, the the harshness.
What didn’t work for me?
Emaline – I know we all make mistakes. And I think that’s part of the whole point of this story. But man alive. She made me want to punch her in the throat, and that prolonged ‘relationship’ with Theo was like pulling teeth. She was likeable, but I just couldn’t relate to her.
Pace – What pace? I felt like this story quickly plateaued and stayed at that same level until about twenty pages from the end when it took off (at last!)
Theo – Ugh. I think he’s supposed to be abrasive. But I felt nothing towards him, except irritation. He was downright cringeworthy in his actions, and in his words.
‘Crackers’ – It’s that pesky cultural divide again. They made a big song and dance about ‘crackers’ being a made up phrase, a ‘thing’, something invented by the (lovely) Morris. Hey! We use ‘crackers’ in our vocabulary pretty regularly over here. Maybe it’s a Brit thing. It felt odd to be asked to pretend it was something novel.
Feels? – I felt like there were many points where I thought I should be ‘feeling’ more than I was. This book doesn’t seem to fully commit to the emotion of the moment, instead it either skips to a new scene/chapter, or it relies on fact. ‘He kissed me.’ Great! But how does it feel? I’m not sure we ever really understand the extent of Emaline’s feelings for Theo, or Luke.
Ending – Again, like above, it’s non-committal. I admired Luke’s last reaction to Emaline. He’s a tough cookie (with a soft gooey centre!) and I found myself feeling the most for him because for the most part he’s overlooked. And maybe that’s why he did what he did in the first place. The ending just ties things up in a neat way but it’s like wrapping up and empty box- there’s no promise of a present later, you know?
All in all it was a nice read. Nice setting, nice characters, a whole bag of niceness! But it didn’t really make me feel anything and it took me quite a while to read it since the narrative kind of flat-lined early on. I wanted to love it because it does have that laid-back beachy vibe that I could totally get on board with- but it just didn’t ‘pop’ for me.
Dear book, it’s not you, it’s me. Sorry.
I gave it a non-committal 3 out of 5 because it had some really nice aspects, but not enough to make me go crazy for it, you know?